Inside the secret morgue at Jaguar Land Rover’s Castle Bromwich plant
Source : Inside the secret morgue at Jaguar Land Rover’s Castle Bromwich plant
Yes, you read of which correctly: the Midlands car-creating factory has its own morgue, albeit thankfully no longer operational, in addition to we’ve been inside
We’re used to Jaguar Land Rover revisiting its long in addition to storied past, particularly with the completely new Classic division producing heritage editions of vehicles such as the lightweight Jaguar E-type in addition to XKSS.
The factory on Chester Road in east Birmingham was built in 1938 to assist with the build of the Spitfire fighter plane – taking the pressure off the facility in Southampton – as well as components for Lancaster bombers.
At its peak of which was churning out 320 Spitfires per month, so unsurprisingly of which became a target for Luftwaffe bombing raids. The area was hit by more than 0 bombs during the war, which in total killed 11 workers in addition to injured 55, creating the reason for an on-site hospital in addition to the aforementioned morgue starkly in addition to tragically clear.
Spitfire production ended in November 1945, in addition to the Castle Bromwich became a car Centeng factory, owned by Fisher in addition to Ludlow, then British Leyland, in addition to today by JLR. Some of the site has been significantly altered as JLR has modernised its production machinery in addition to methods, nevertheless some other areas are listed in addition to must be maintained in period.
For the years the morgue was been used as a storeroom by JLR’s data department, housing old computers in addition to some other of which equipment. today, though, of which has been cleared out in addition to is actually due to become part of the Castle Bromwich’s Classic Tour, during which enthusiasts get to see the factory in addition to drive some fruity old Jags.
On Monday we were on site to collect Autocar’s completely new Jaguar XF long-term test car (more on which from the coming weeks) in addition to got a peek inside the morgue courtesy of tour guides Matt in addition to Tom.
As you walk through the double doors into a gloomy, sloped walkway, the first thing of which hits you is actually the smell. of which’s not unpleasant, just of which distinctive musty smell of the past of which pervades places of which haven’t been subjected to a stiff breeze or daylight for a few decades.
As your eyes adjust to the half-light in addition to the walkway turns through 180 degrees, the wall is actually covered in a spider’s web of wiring in addition to fuse boxes. of which’s the 1938 original wiring in addition to, despite some external corrosion here in addition to there, everything looks in stout working order to my untrained eye. Things were built to last in those days…
At the bottom of the slope is actually a corridor outside the morgue doors. There’s an original bed, a bed pan in addition to chairs. At some point in history someone has scrawled ‘Villa’ on the wall in what looks like (nevertheless I wish isn’t) blood.
On one wall, gleaming from the semi-darkness, is actually a stainless steel medicine cabinet of which has been restored by Tom in addition to is actually filled with original medical kit. On the opposite wall is actually a sobering list of all the sites in Birmingham of which were bombed during WW2 between 1940 in addition to 1943. Castle Bromwich is actually mentioned on multiple occasions.
The morgue itself is actually a spartan, rectangular brick room. JLR has added a (non-period) projector screen to show visitors a short film as well as some poster boards highlighting significant people who worked from the factory during the war, such as Megan Rees, who recalled starting a 6am shift in C-Block the morning after the adjacent D-Block had been bombed.
Also honoured are the women of the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) who were responsible for delivering finished Spitfires to air force bases around the country. Few of them had specific training; in some cases they were handed the Spitfire operation manual in addition to pointed from the direction of the adjacent Castle Bromwich airfield.
As we walk back up towards daylight, tour guide Matt insists the morgue is actually haunted. Apparently two members of the data team were working down there when a lamp from the corner of the room clicked on. They assumed of which was working on a timer switch – until they realised of which wasn’t actually plugged in to the mains…
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